I am enjoying writing and reading on , and I have joined a publication on there called: 'Mystic Minds' that publishes articles on spirituality, and a story I wrote was published there today. I feel quite chuffed about it (-: My first article in a publication.
I know it will be a long journey, and I am only just starting really, but I feel like writing is what I am meant to be doing. I find writing cathartic.
I keep seeing pristine white feathers on the path in front of me everywhere I walk. People kept telling me to look out for signs after my Dad died. I didn't have clue what they were talking about. But I wonder if these white feathers are my Dad telling me I am going in the right direction with my writing, I don't know.
I feel my Dad's presence sometimes, it feels like he is with me. I miss him so much. I had another bout of tears earlier, and just now actually writing this wee article; but it is reassuring to know he is okay. I feel his support in the spirit world. And whenever I do something kind or generous I try to remember to dedicate it in his memory, and say a little prayer for him.
I feel blessed at the moment.
Death’s hard to bear.
It feels cruel.
Grief is lonely.
Dad was a good man.
Loved by many.
Lots of different people
attended his funeral.
His life affected them all.
It was beautiful.
The world feels a lesser place
Now he has gone.
Just isn’t the same.
He made things better.
Why did he have to die?
I’ve read that the wise do not grieve.
But still the tears fall.
Perhaps that means
I am not wise at all.
Rain drops fall like a tranquil melody.
from a mountain of studying.
So much revision to do
And my heart is just not in it.
is luminous in the rain.
Green shades of every kind.
I stop to watch a
as it swims back and forth.
A barrel jellyfish I think.
Blind as a bat though
As it bumps into the sea wall.
Sit at the computer.
Makes me behave in odd ways at times.
My moods go up and down like a yo-yo.
Every so often I remember, and realise he is not here anymore.
I have been told grief can last for years. I heard a monk say when he lost his Mum it took him five years to feel like he had got back to normal.
But this is the thing, I am not depressed, I am fine. I am just letting things arise and cease in their own time, letting it all be without clinging to it.
I find writing cathartic, and I know my Dad used to like to read my blog posts sometimes. And I know I could just be all private and keep myself to myself, but maybe what I write might help others out there going through something similar. I don't know.
Sometimes I feel alive, enthusiastic, full of excitement and wonder. Other times I am like a flat battery that can't seem to hold its charge or see much hope in anything. Other times there's an odd mix of brain chemistry that is so horrible I can't put it into words.
It is helpful for me to remember the brain is the body. It is dependent on conditions largely outside my control, meaning it will change. It won't always function in the way I wish it would, and eventually it will cease when the conditions it depends on cease.
That is the way of things with dependent origination. Conditioned phenomena is impermanent. It isn't gloomy to think this way. It can be a helpful tool to bring some equanimity to the mind. It helps me let go of the clinging and aversion towards things, and to stop taking it personally. Which decreases the suffering somewhat.
Sometimes difficult things happen that are outside our control. And sometimes it’s our own fault, we behave in unskilful ways and reap the kamma for it. Whatever it is, we then go and add more suffering to the situation with the longing, aversion, and taking it personally. This is the mental pain we add to physical and worldly difficulties. This is what makes us suffer.
I remember one night I got stranded on the mainland after missing the last boat back to the island. I had just completed a lengthy 10-hour journey coming back from my dad’s funeral. And I arrived at the ferry terminal late due to a delay with the coach. I felt exhausted and a bit unwell. There was nowhere to stay, and a long wait till the next ferry in the morning. So I went to sit on the beach, tried to roll a joint to make myself feel better. And I'd almost finished rolling it, when there was a huge gust of wind that blew it all away, and then it started raining. I felt like the person off the Hamlet advert, but without the cigar.
Then the day of the funeral all came back to me, and I burst into tears. It all just gushed out. I felt so lonely.
Then I saw my dad’s face in the sea. And I said I was sorry for not getting chance to speak to him before he died. I wished him well and told him he was loved.
Then the wind and rain became unbearable, so I went to find some shelter. I spent the rest of the night alternating between walking, standing, and sitting meditation.
I went through so many mood swings in that one night. Like the mind was changing, morphing into all sorts of different shapes and patterns. I was even seeing things that weren't there. It was challenging.
Through it all I tried to remain still and not get disturbed by the changing psychic weather. I just kept bringing my attention back to the breath and body to calm and centre the mind. Not engaging with anything else. Meditation felt like a refuge. There were strange eerie sounds at times like banshees wailing. (They turned out to be seabirds, the tunnel making their calls echo in ghostly ways).
Eventually after many hours of this, the mind converged into a oneness, and it all disappeared. The psychic weather passed. Leaving behind a stillness and beautiful emptiness that I can't put into words.
I was greeted at sunrise by a friendly pigeon watching me intently with smiley eyes. Then it vocalised a set of patterns, and some moments later another pigeon responded in the distance with a different set of vocal patterns.
The pigeon flew away.
The wind and rain outside had stopped. It also dependent on conditions.
I went to get a coffee and my card was declined by the reader. I laughed, and the cashier laughed as well. She said that happens to her all the time, and that she keeps a supply of cash with her just in case.
Luckily, I had a few coins on me and managed to buy the coffee.
I am catching up with the studying, only two weeks behind now. My plan is to get slightly ahead if I can, so that I can have some time off for Dad's funeral at the end of the month.
I am a tired one today.
High humidity and
brain foggier than pea soup.
Energy is a distant memory.
Body aches and grumbles.
The mind struggles to converge.
Would rather lay in the netherworld of sleep.
Can't face the world, let me be.
But there are things to do,
Three weeks behind in my studies and it is hard to get back into them. Keep staring out of the window. Remembering things from my childhood. My father's face.
Part of me feels relief that I no longer have to carry the water. Another part feels guilty for feeling that way. And another part encourages me by saying at least my heart was in the right place.
How complex the mind is, all these different selves, where do they come from?
It is like a committee sometimes, these different minds within minds. Like fractals.
.. keep putting one foot in front of the other.
That's how we walk the path to freedom.
I find myself in tears every so often. I just let them fall without trying to resist them.
It is hard to think I will never see Dad again. I talk to him on my walks in the quiet of the woods. Some part of him lives on inside me.
It is a kindness to myself to give the grief space. To hold it all without judging it, or adding any more to it, or taking any of it personally. Just flowing with it, letting it be.
Life as it is, the only teacher.
I am learning it is okay to not know what to say at times. Sometimes being a silent presence is enough.
I centre with the breath, and let everything happening around me be as it is. I breathe through it, flood my whole field of awareness with the breath, so it feels like the whole cosmos is breathing with me.
When the mind is more serene I fill my awareness with love, with compassion, with peace, or equanimity.
When not in sitting meditation. I take refuge in what is known as sati sampajanna, mindfulness of the present moment. Knowing where I am, what I'm doing. Whatever activity I am engaged in, I try to stay centred with it and with the feeling of embodiment.
When I notice I am getting absorbed in thoughts to do with greed, aversion, or conceit. I label them as such and then brush them aside like useless rubbish. Nonsense. Not worth investing in, or wasting psychic energy on. I let them be in the background, but I stop engaging with them, and keep centering the mind with some aspect of mindfulness instead, that feels calming.
It isn't easy. Sometimes I can dismiss thoughts quickly. Other times I have to talk myself into a better state of mind. And sometimes I have to do it gently in stages.
Mindfulness, effort, samhadi they work together. Both in sitting meditation and in daily life.
It is difficult. But worth it in the end I am assured. Although not liberated yet, I am noticing benefits to dhamma practise, which keep growing steadily. Benefits in terms of increased peace of mind. So I am slowly but surely developing, and seem to be going in the right direction.
The problem can be narrowed down to just greed, anger, and conceit. These are what harrass the mind. And when those three psychic irritants are absent, there is a feeling of great relief. The mind stops harrassing itself and there is peace.
It just takes time to get there, perseverance, patience, sometimes endurance. But one day our future selves will be glad we took the time to train the mind - when it all bears fruit.
What we practise now grows stronger and is who we become.
It is exhausting being someone, being a person. Maintaining an identity. It is a heavy suitcase we carry around. Our moods change, as does the world. And one's ego inevitably falls apart. A fragile house of cards swept up by the worldly winds.
A lot of psychic energy is bound up in the story 'I am'.
When that psychic energy is released. It becomes unbound, limitless. Free.
An energy no longer subject to conditions. Something difficult to define and put into words. To define it is to attach conditions to it.
Anyway that's all I've got just now, and what I am currently working with in my practise.
Here's a poem attributed to the Buddha I have going through my head at the moment:
' Let not a person revive the past
Or on the future build one's hopes,
For the past has been left behind
And the future has not been reached.
Instead with insight let one see
Each presently arisen state;
Let one know that and be sure of it, Invincibly, unshakably.
Today the effort must be made; Tomorrow Death may come, who knows?
No bargain with Mortality
Can keep him and his hoards away.
But one who dwells thus ardently, Relentlessly, by day, by night
It is those, the Peaceful Sage has said, Who have had one excellent night. '
- the Buddha.
A playlist about sadness, enjoy:
I find melancholic music can be strangely soothing at times, like sonic therapy.
As Suzuki Roshi famously once said: 'What's wrong with sadness?'
Feel the pain and grief.
And let it give you power.
The momentum to move forward.
To go beyond this empty world.
Beyond the tears of Samsara.
On to the other shore. To higher things.
To the deathless, and the freedom of nibbana.
Use the sadness to break the illusion.
To see through the delusion.
As Mara crushes your heart and mind.
Smile with equanimity at the rain, the pain.
Strength through adversity.
The first noble truth.
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